The highly acclaimed Major League Baseball Australian Academy (MLBAAP), run in partnership by the Australian Baseball Federation (ABF) and Major League Baseball (MLB), has begun its twelfth year on the Gold Coast. Seventy top young baseball players from Australia and New Zealand will attend the six week program from 23 June to 5 August.
Held at Palm Meadows Baseball Complex on the Gold Coast since 2001, the academy aims to improve the quantity and quality of young baseball players coming out of the region. The athletes compete in a forty-eight game schedule and train six days a week, headed up by Australian National Team Coach and Boston Red Sox International Scout, Jon Deeble.
The academy boasts six players who have gone on to play in the big leagues including in the 2011 season, Australian pitchers Josh Spence (San Diego Padres, MLBAAP 2003-2006), Shane Lindsay (Chicago White Sox, MLBAAP 2002-2003) and Liam Hendriks (Minnesota Twins, MLBAAP 2006) became the 4th, 5th and 6th MLBAAP alumni to make their major league debut.
At least nine of the players in this year’s season have signed with Major League clubs and are attending the Academy to begin their professional careers. These include: pitcher Dan McGrath (Victoria, Boston Red Sox, Melbourne Aces), catchers Josh Kennelly (Western Australia, Cincinnati Reds), Rob Perkins (Canberra, Colorado Rockies, Canberra Cavalry) and Beau Bishop (Porirua NZ, Boston Red Sox), outfielders Ben Leslie (Victoria, San Francisco Giants), Adam Silva (Victoria, New York Yankees) and Elliot Hargreaves (Western Australia, Cincinnati Reds, Perth Heat), and infielders Aaron Sayers (Victoria, Detroit Tigers, Melbourne Aces) and Pita Rona (New Zealand, Baltimore Orioles).
While most participants are native to Australia, each year MLB clubs also send recently signed European and Asian players to the Academy to prepare them for the rigors of Minor League Baseball. A total of 170 Academy graduates have signed professional contracts with MLB clubs, these include 25 players with nationalities other than Australian (seven Czechs, four Japanese, Koreans, and Taiwanese, three New Zealanders, two South Africans and one each of Chinese, Dutch, American, French, German and Italian.)
The 2012 program is more favoured than ever for the quality of its coaching unit; this year featuring five former major leaguers on staff. In attendance for the first time is Craig Shipley, an Australian record thirteen year Major League playing career and former second in charge of the Boston Red Sox, adding substantial insight, expertise and perspective to the 2012 Academy.
www.mlbaap.baseball.com.au for Full Details, Game Results and Stats